The Thursday night train wreck highlighted just how important the quarterback position is in the NFL.
It also was a quick lesson in the education and maturation of today’s NFL quarterback.
We all saw that Christian Ponder is not as good as Teddy Bridgewater, who was the 32nd overall selection of the 2014 draft. But let’s not forget that the Vikings reached with the 12th overall pick of the 2011 draft to get Ponder just because they couldn’t find a trade partner.
On the other hand, the Packers waited patiently as Aaron Rodgers was able to fall in their lap. He was the first pick of the Packers in 2005 when Green Bay currently had a Hall of Famer on the roster.
And after Rodgers had a chance to ingest all the intricacies about being a pro quarterback from the bench for three years, he was more than ready to become the focal point of the offense.
But the quarterback drought isn’t just happening in Minnesota. The passer blight is clear all over the league. For every Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Rodgers — who have a combined four picks this year — there’s Geno Smith, Jake Locker, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr. Those four guys have a combined 17 interceptions.
Smith has started 20 games and owns a 9-11 record. The mediocre decision maker is also a whisper away from losing his starting job to Michael Vick. Locker has started 21 games and owns a 9-12 career record for the nothing-special Titans. Bortles started his first game last week in a blowout loss at San Diego but appears overmatched and Carr was in a losing battle the moment the worst-run team in the NFL drafted him.
All four of those young quarterbacks entered the league with high expectations. They left college with lofty goals, but once they got to the NFL they were never given enough time to let the game slow down and comprehend it.
The league is so reliant on quarterbacks that it needs to take the position more seriously. Now more than ever, the league needs to take steps to ensure that the future of the game is fully stocked with suitable signal callers.
And how do you make that happen?
You mandate that rookie quarterbacks sit at least 10 games. Let them figure out how fast cornerbacks are at the next level, let them decipher tape by predicting what the defense will do next and let them be so game-ready that teammates expect nothing but wins.
Now, teams throw young quarterbacks into the starting lineup either to energize the fan base and put fannies in the seats or use to it as motivation for the veteran quarterback.
What good does it do if a young quarterback’s confidence is shredded before he is able to show off his skills? The prime example of this is Carr’s brother David. He was the No. 1 overall pick in 2002 and was called on to save a beleaguered franchise.
Well, that never happened as he got hit more than a piñata. He was sacked a league-high 76 times his rookie year and never fully recovered. He went 22-53 in five years in Houston followed by a 1-3 stint in Carolina to close out his career as a starting quarterback.
With the limitations the NFL has placed on defenses for not being able to touch receivers or quarterbacks, the pro passing game has never had as many chances to succeed as it does right now. Yet, of all 32 teams in the league there are only 17 teams with an above average quarterback. That’s a pretty sad number, especially since Luck and Wilson are the most recent draft picks that have shown long-term capable success in this league.
If the NFL doesn’t start implementing a plan to develop quarterbacks better, Thursday Night Football will turn into Must Miss TV with losing teams getting outscored 205-60 this season.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn